"Mega Man" is one of the franchises that fizzled before 2000 and has since been represented by a series of substandard to terrible titles. The general consensus among gamers is that the games started getting stale after "Mega Man X3," the last installment the SNES. The newest adventure starring the Blue Bomber, however, returns to the roots of the series in an unprecedented fashion.
Released exclusively online via WiiWare, Xbox Live, and the Playstation Network, the game disregards technological advancements of the past decade and a half, being made entirely in 8-bit fashion, right down to the occasional sprite flicker. The gameplay, resembling that of Mega Man 2, (Meaning you don't have the slide and charge shot) is just as tight as it was back in the day. For players who want to enjoy the game with slightly updated gameplay, you can select Proto Man as your character, who enjoys all of the upgrades seen in the later NES titles.
With 8 stages, the multi-stage boss level, and a downloadable extra stage, the game will take plenty of time to complete. Not because of its length but because of its punishing difficulty. Yes, Capcom has FULLY returned to its roots. In fact, I'd say that "Mega Man 9" is harder than some of the originals in places.
This game is not for the modern, casual gamer. Unless you were able to beat or almost beat games like Mega Man 1 through Mega Man 6 or titles in the Contra series, this game will destroy you. Even though I played through every single other NES Mega Man game, I still die hundreds of times in Mega Man 9. My friends and I have reached the conclusion that the designers are all sadists bent on bringing back horrible memories of the original games who made the difficulty of the franchise infamous.
Not to say that the game is bad. By no means. The game is excellent and a wonderful revival of Capcom's mascot. It's just that playing it leads many to develop masochistic tendencies because no matter how many times you lose, you still have to keep on playing, the reason being that when you DO beat a stage or overcome an insane obstacle, the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled. For a brief moment the player feels superior and godly, only to have that illusion destroyed a few minutes later.
Mega Man 9 is packed with loads of extra features, as well. As I mentioned, there's an alternate character that makes a play-through very different and an extra stage. But in addition to that there's a Time Attack mode, an 'Endless Mode,' and a list of challenges that border on the impossible, one being to beat the entire game without taking damage.
Despite its $9.99 price tag, (plus $4.99 for all of the downloadable content and add-ons) this game should not be purchased lightly. It truly separates the men from the boys. You've been warned.
- Eliot Hagen